In 1998, as we all prepared for the pending crisis of Y2K, we also witnessed the Chicago Bulls win their 6th NBA Title and Michael Jordan play his last game as a Bull. Hong Kong’s fancy new International Airport opened, which meant the chances for a fiery death from your plane crashing into a high rise building (like at the old airport) dropped dramatically. In politics, our country’s attention was (unfortunately) fixated on the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. The film Titanic won 11 Oscars that year, including Best Picture…and forever ruined the phrase, “I’m king of the world”. Frank Sinatra passed away that year, at the age of 82. Meanwhile, in Menlo Park, CA, two Stanford PhD students started a little company called Google, which would soon change the way we experience the internet.
1998 was also the year that Carita and I got married. Yes, it’s been 10 years. This was, of all the momentous and trivial events of that year, the most significant one for us. We were both 24 in 1998, young and not quite sure of how this “life” thing was supposed to work. A total of almost 900 people attended our wedding. I recall feeling overwhelmed by it all, as I walked in and took my position at the end of the aisle. So many expectations, so many dreams…anxious and nervous. I hardly remembered to breathe. But then, the string quartet started playing Purcell and those doors at the back of the church opened and there she was. And as I watched her walk towards me, I knew then, in a deeper way than I had ever known before, that this woman was my life and that I wanted no future apart from her.
Our ten years of marriage have been ten years of laughter, tears, joy, and heartache. I am challenged by this woman that I married, just as I am encouraged and frustrated and confused and loved and accepted. It has been ten years of God’s sanctifying work in both our lives. I could not have dreamed of more. To celebrate, I’ll give you ten ways (one for each year, although there are so many more) that my life has been impacted by what happened on July 25, 1998. After all, a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
- Generosity: Whether it’s being generous with time or resources, Carita’s generous spirit serves as the standard in this area for which I strive each day. She and Jesus. Really.
- Simplicity: I used to have pretty strict standards for what I considered fun. Carita, meanwhile, takes enjoyment at some of the simplest things…like people watching, for example. She can do it for hours. Oddly enough, I find myself making “observations” about people when we’re out and about. I never used to notice, much less feel any interest for people watching.
- Patience: Love is patient…never more so than when I find myself at the outlet mall on a shopping excursion with my wife.
- Silliness: Generally speaking, I am a pretty serious guy. I like to joke around, but I have never been called silly. Except by Carita. When I sing commercial jingles in her ear as she’s waking up in the morning, that might be part of the reason why. I am never as free as when I am around her.
- Cleanliness: I like having a clean house, now that I’m married. In contrast, my college living room furniture consisted of a love seat I found by my apartment’s dumpster and a $10 chair I bought from an old lady who owned 6 cats. I didn’t bother to have either of them cleaned. Now, I pick lint off of the couch and dust from the corners of the rooms.
- Teamwork: I’m a lone ranger, by personality. Introverted and self-reliant to a fault. I think that’s part of the reason why God has arranged it so that every assignment and every role since we’ve been in ministry has been done together. Now, I can’t imagine doing it without her.
- Positive: Her positivity is infectious. I love her for it.
- Endurance: This would never have been on my “list” of qualities to look for in a wife. But we couldn’t have made it thus far without it. No other area do I see more of the true strength of my wife’s character than in how she’s endured our struggle with infertility.
- Hope: She is quick to hope because she is quick to trust the Lord. It’s not really a quirk of personality, but something from Him and rooted in Him. I find myself drawn to hope, too, because I see her trusting Him and hoping in Him.
- Love: Carita’s love for me is gracious and lavish. She really does love me the way that God commands her to. In this, I see each day a picture of how He loves me. Say one thing about Dennis Chen, say that he is loved by God.